I was raised by parents of two different faiths. How did that work? Let’s just say it was hardly the first time my parents would disagree on something, or that I would be exposed to two opposing trains of thought by people that I trusted. Politically, spiritually, career-wise; conflicting schools of thought pervade my circle of family and friends.
When it comes to religion and spirituality, I truly feel I have seen it all. I grew up in a Catholic school system, an experience that served to push me away from basic tenets of Christianity while concurrently teaching me to appreciate the benefits of the community it engenders. I have had the privilege to visit the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and learn about Buddhism from the people of Cambodia. I have explored many churches across Europe, and listened to their respective histories rooted in both Islam and Christianity. I had the pleasure of visiting a close friend in New Delhi, where I was immersed in Hindu culture. I have learned to be spiritual in more ways than one, the passing of various friends and family members has opened my eyes to what I truly believe are signs from the deceased.
Does everything happen for a reason? I have no idea. If we are being honest, I struggle with that more than anything. All I know is that if there is a higher truth, it must be the product of the truest insights of every form of practice. Maybe that’s why I love churches.
Despite the fact that my teenage self would likely disown me for willingly sitting in a pew, I have come to enjoy its solace. And, as blasphemous as it may be, my favorite time to be in church is completely alone. It started when I moved to New York City. To have a respite from the noise, one needs to be holed up in a building with limited windows and some seriously thick walls. What fits the bill? A church. Too hot outside? Too cold? Stressed? Upset? Grateful? Want company? Don’t want company? No matter the mood, there is something humbling about entering a structure built with such care that means so much to so many.
That is why, as a completely unreligious yet very spiritual person, I love spending time in any place of worship. It is a place of respite, and a humbling reminder of the force of the people around you that can create so much more. It is spaces like these that exude strength and remind us of all the times that humanity has defied our own limits–the power of souls joining together to manifest the divine.